Here are the great authors for this year's Summer Of Zombie Blog Tour For 2013. All of them are super authors!
Bryan Smith... Joe McKinney... Mark Tufo... Kirk Allmond... Armand Rosamilia... TW Brown... Julianne Snow... James N. Cook... John O'Brien...
Okay, anyone who knows anything about Zombies has heard the name Joe McKinney. After all, he did receive a Bram Stoker Award in 2011 for Flesh Eaters. That's not his only credit to date. His Amazon Author page is resplendent with his great books.
I can not walk into my library without passing by his books. Many times his shelves are sparse because people are reading his tales. That says a lot about an author. Below is a short Amazon bio:
Joe McKinney has been a patrol officer for the San Antonio Police Department, a homicide detective, a disaster mitigation specialist, a patrol commander, and a successful novelist. His books include the four part Dead World series, Quarantined, Inheritance, Lost Girl of the Lake, Crooked House and Dodging Bullets. His short fiction has been collected in The Red Empire and Other Stories and Dating in Dead World and Other Stories. In 2011, McKinney received the Horror Writers Association's Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. For more information go to http://joemckinney.wordpress.com.
And now I present to you an excerpt of his soon to be released novel The Savage Dead.
An excerpt from THE SAVAGE DEAD, by Joe McKinney. Due out September 3, 2013 by Kensington Books, New York. Used by permission of the author.
It was 4:30 a.m. and Juan Perez was parked in the street in front of the McAllen Produce Terminal just west of downtown San Antonio. Already trucks were moving into the lot and it was filling up with men going into work. The traffic didn’t concern him, though. In fact, he was glad for it. A lot of vehicles coming and going made for good cover.
He was in a white ’98 Toyota pickup he’d borrowed from his local contact in the FBI. It fit right in with all the other battered pickups coming and going. So far nobody had looked twice at him, but if they had they would have seen a man in jeans, boots and a shabby, loose fitting flannel shirt, somebody who looked just like every other guy out here going to work. His target was actually a meat packing facility halfway down the block. After his conversation with Tess the night before she left for the cruise, he’d been thinking a lot about Ramon Medina and the Porra Cartel. They were big along the Texas border, especially around Ciudad Juarez, and he’d seen some intelligence that they were trying to expand operations, but even with that they were hardly the major players. Still, they’d managed to put themselves center stage with the flesh-eating bacteria the SAPD had intercepted the week before. It was a potential game changer if ever there was one. The recovered samples had been sent to the CDC and tested, and the news was bad. Juan had the full report in the file resting in his lap, but it hadn’t taken much of a read to figure out they were dealing with a major league bad bug. The stuff was highly resilient and dangerous enough to kill just about anything with which it came in contact. It’s potential as a WMD device put it up on everybody’s radar; but Juan had been able to make a case that the Porra Cartel’s involvement demonstrated a direct link to the assassination attempt on Senator Sutton, and so Mr. Crouch, Juan’s point of contact in the White House, had agreed to let him take point on the investigation, even over the objections of the FBI and the Justice Department. Everybody wanted a piece of the case, it seemed, but the White House had spoken, and now it was Juan’s case to make or break.
He’d tried his contacts in the South Texas High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force to see if they could locate properties tied to the Porra Cartel, but while they’d been enthusiastic, they’d been little help. Juan was actually kind of shocked to learn that most of the task force’s efforts were focused on street level interdiction, small time distributors and dealers. They occasionally went after mid-level dealers who got too big for their britches, but that was about it. They had no active interdiction program to deal with the tens of thousands of commercial motor vehicles rolling through San Antonio every day. They had no forensic accountants doing background work on local businesses. They, really, had nothing much to show for their efforts. South Texas HIDTA was the kind of outfit that splashed it all over the news every time they busted a million dollar load, but not the kind that made any real impact on drug trafficking. Worse still, they had completely ignored any sort of counterintelligence efforts. They’d done nothing to explore soft spots within their own unit, or to develop a deep understanding of the key players for the other side. And of course they’d done nothing to understand the long-range goals of the specific cartels. They were, not to put too fine a point on it, street cops messing with street level players. And that meant he had to go to the FBI. It made him feel like a beggar with his hat in his hand doing it, and they’d made sure he knew his place, but in the end the FBI had come through with some good information. They’d found that the Cavazos Meat Packing Company was staying afloat on a wave of cash currency and managed to trace at least some of that cash back to a holding corporation in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico known to be a front for the Porra Cartel. Their information jived with the report Juan had received from the CDC geeks – that the bacteria would remain at its most viable and virulent level when it had a constant supply of meat to feed on – and so he’d come here, to this dark, badly paved road in the laborer’s district of San Antonio, to do a little counterintelligence of his own.
He glanced at his watch: 4:37 a.m. Christ, he’d been at this since eight o’clock the previous evening. He was exhausted. And his injured arm, while finally free of the sling he’d been forced to wear, was nonetheless tender. It ached no matter how he held it. He was thinking about walking around the corner of the deserted building across the street to piss when he saw a shiny black Suburban turn the corner and glide up to the front loading docks of the Cavazos Meat Packing Company.
He sat up.
There was no need for binoculars. Even in the dark he could see well enough the three men coming out of the building to meet the Suburban at the dock.
Wincing at the pain in his arm, Juan reached over for the wand and receiver for his Krentz-Orbiter Directional Receiver. It was out of date and clunky, but nonetheless effective. It utilized a single forward microphone ringed by buffers that eliminated side noise, which in effect amplified the range of the microphone to as far as half a mile.
He wasn’t anywhere near that range now, only a few hundred yards, in fact, and as soon as he turned the device on he heard the voices from the loading dock coming in loud and clear.
There were five men there, speaking in Spanish.
With his free hand, Juan copied down the things they said on a yellow legal pad. He was careful to copy it out in Spanish, using their exact words whenever possible, so as not to miss anything. If they were talking in code, it wouldn’t survive on the fly translation.
But it didn’t take him long to realize they weren’t using code. One of the men that had gotten out of the Suburban, a young guy dressed in black jeans, white shirt and black blazer who appeared to be the one in charge, asked about a second truck and if they had drivers ready to move out. One of the men who had come from inside the building told him no, that the men had heard what was in the barrels and what it could do and none of them wanted anything to do with it.
The young guy got angry. He jammed his finger into the man’s chest and told him to find somebody to drive it out of here in the next five minutes or he’d be doing it himself.
The man’s two friends looked on without saying anything. They looked too scared to speak. Juan didn’t recognize this young guy in the black blazer, but whoever he was these others were clearly afraid of him.
I’ll find somebody, the man said at last.
Good, the younger man answered. I want that van in Nuevo Laredo by 10 a.m.
Nuevo Laredo, Juan thought. Why on earth would they be going there? The Porra Cartel didn’t have interests there. They operated out of Juarez, six hundred and fifty miles to the west. Nuevo Laredo was controlled by the Zetas. In fact, they had a stranglehold on Nuevo Laredo not even the Mexican Army had been able to break.
And then it hit him.
He looked down at the CDC report on the passenger seat and it all made sense. Back in 2003, Nuevo Laredo, which sat directly across the border from the Texas city of Laredo, was solidly in the hands of the Gulf Cartel. Los Zetas were the armed wing of the Gulf Cartel, its street fighters. At the end of Vicente Fox’s presidency, the Sinaloa Cartel tried to take Nuevo Laredo from the Gulf Cartel. Los Zetas attacked and in four months of savage fighting cleared the Sinaloa Cartel from Nuevo Laredo, which they dominated from that point on. Then, in 2010, Los Zetas broke with the Gulf Cartel. The fighting escalated across all of northeast Mexico, and eventually culminated in the 2012 Nuevo Laredo Massacre that left more than seven thousand soldiers and civilians dead. Los Zetas emerged from that fight on top, gaining total control over the Mexican entryway to the I-35 Corridor, the most lucrative drug trade route in the world.
To outsiders, the constantly shifting allegiances of the cartels were harder to follow than a soap opera, but to Juan the problem seemed simple enough. The Porra Cartel, which had proven itself to be lean and hungry these last ten years, was looking to take over control of the Texas border. It already dominated in Ciudad Juarez. If they succeeded in releasing this flesh-eating virus of theirs in Nuevo Laredo, they stood a chance of taking over that door to the U.S. as well. Literally nothing would stand in their way to becoming the most powerful drug smuggling operation in the world. Never mind that millions would die to make it happen. The Mexican Drug War had already claimed more than a million lives. What were a few million more?
Juan traded the eavesdropping microphone for his cell and called Detective Jason Rowe, a former San Antonio Police SWAT officer and his contact with the South Texas HIDTA Unit. As it rang he stepped out of the truck and started walking toward the Cavazos Meat Packing Company. He was tucking the back of his flannel shirt out of the way of his Sig Sauer P229 pistol when Rowe’s voice came over the line.
“Where are you?” Rowe said.
“About to go into the Cavazos building. Listen, something’s happening. They’re moving out of here. How far out are you?”
“I’m on the way to roll call, Juan. Wait a minute, did you say you’re going into the Cavazos building?”
Juan broke into a trot. “Yeah.”
“You can’t do that, Juan. You don’t even have a warrant, do you?”
“I’m going in exigent circumstances. This won’t wait. I need you here right now.”
“Listen, Juan,” Rowe said, a note of desperation seeping into his voice, “just hang on, okay? Let me get some of the guys together. We’ll be there in fifteen minutes, twenty tops.”
“Won’t wait that long. It’s going down now.”
“What do you mean it won’t wait? What are you doing, Juan?”
But Juan couldn’t answer. He’d already closed most of the distance to the loading dock. The men were moving inside now, and the young guy turned to check the street behind him. Juan quickly ducked out of sight behind a dumpster and pulled his pistol.
“What are you doing, Juan? Come on, talk to me, man.”
Juan waited for the men to slip inside the building before answering. “I think we found the first battle in a war,” he said.
“A war? Juan, what in the hell – ”
“I’ll tell you when you get here. Just get here.”
“Okay, wait wait wait. What is this about a war?”
“You remember that flesh-eating bacteria the CDC told us about? Call Tom Parkes over at the FBI and tell him I found where they’re hiding it, but it’s going mobile right now. I need your people out here and Tom needs to get us a team equipped to lock down the bacteria.”
Juan was less than ten feet from the loading dock when a young Porra soldier with a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth and a rifle slung over his shoulder stepped out of the dark alley next to the building.
The man stopped in his tracks, his eyes going wide.
Juan slipped his phone into his shirt pocket and veered toward the man. Before the soldier could react Juan kicked the side of his knee, causing him to cave forward. Juan caught him, spun him around, and threw his right arm around the man’s neck. The man struggled, tried to pull away, but his efforts were too little too late. Still clutching his pistol, Juan hooked his right hand over his left forearm, tightening his hold on the man’s neck while simultaneously pushing with his left hand on the back of the man’s head. Sleeper holds worked quickly when executed properly, and Juan was an expert. The man sagged to the floor, limp and unconscious. Moving fast Juan pulled him back into the alley.
He could hear Rowe screaming at him over the phone. Juan pulled it out of his pocket and said, “I’m going in. Get here quick.”
“Wait, God damn it! You need to do this tactically. Be smart about this. Let us hit it the right way.”
“You SWAT guys can be kind of chicken shit sometimes, you know that?”
“Juan, I’m fucking serious here. Do not go – ”
Juan disconnected without waiting for the rest. He silenced the phone and slid it into his back pocket. If he knew Rowe, and he was pretty sure he did, the man would do everything he told him. And it wouldn’t take him fifteen minutes to do it either. He and the entire rest of his unit would be on the way in five. With luck, they might even get there in time to pull his ass out of the fire he was about to start.
Hopefully, he thought.
Then he slipped through the door.
It opened onto a narrow hallway that led around a corner to his left. Juan pressed against the wall and listened. He could hear muffled voices coming from the bowels of the building. The hallway was cold. There was a faint odor of decomposition partially masked by a bleachy smell. It was enough to raise the hairs on the back of his neck.
Somebody – probably the young guy, Juan figured – was barking orders. He sounded upset again. Juan reached into a pocket on the inside of his shirt and removed a pen-shaped digital video recorder. The device looked just like a normal black and gold ballpoint pen but was actually a highly sensitive digital recorder capable of capturing up to forty minutes of video footage. He didn’t figure on using even half that.
The hallway ahead turned right, so Juan moved to the left hand side of the hall and slowly inched his way around the corner, his weapon up and ready. It was an operator’s trick called pieing the corner. Doing it correctly maximized both cover and visibility. If anybody stepped into the hallway, he’d see him a fraction of a second before they saw him, and that would be all the time Juan needed.
The hallway went about twenty feet before opening up on either side to what looked like a warehouse floor. Juan could see the shadows of two men just inside the door on the left hand side of the hall. Armed guards, he thought, almost certainly. That meant he had to hit the room hard and fast, not giving them a chance to react. He had no idea how this was going to turn out, but he did know the rules of engagement. His badge hung from a sturdy beaded chain around his neck. Juan pulled it out and let it rest on his chest. He’d have to identify himself, at least give them the chance to surrender, even though he knew that wasn’t going to happen. He was about to step into a gunfight, and he was ready.
He checked his watch. Three minutes to five.
No time like right now, he told himself, and focused his breathing. In and out, slow and steady, like a metronome. During the selection process for Special Forces the doctors had discovered Juan had something called a metronomic heartbeat. Most people’s heartbeats vary with what they’re doing. Fast when they’re stressed, like when they have a gun to their heads or they’re about to jump out of airplane, slow when they’re sitting on the couch reading a book. Not Juan’s though. His was steady nearly all the time, no matter what he was doing. The doctors told him it was because his brain produced a higher than normal level of a neurotransmitter called neuropeptide. They told him it was like the body’s version of a Valium, mitigating the effects of anxiety and stress. It was a good thing, they told him, and a trait he shared with most of the successful Special Forces operators. And it was helping him now to stay focused and calm. He brought his pistol up and glided down the hall, rounded the corner and charged into the room yelling, “La Policia! Abajo en el suelo! Al suelo!”
Caught flatfooted the two guards at the door fumbled with their weapons trying to get them up. One of them accidentally squeezed off a round into the ceiling. Juan didn’t give him a chance to fire another. He shot the guard closest to him, putting a single round center mass in his chest. The man staggered backwards, but didn’t fall. Juan lunged for him, grabbed the muzzle of the man’s AK with his left hand, and pushed the rifle flat against the man’s bleeding chest. With his other hand Juan fired twice over the man’s shoulder, dropping the second guard to floor.
The first guard was making a choking sound. Already his eyes had turned up into his skull and he was shaking. That made him easy to control. Juan spun him around, using him as a human shield for the three gunmen moving in on him. The men opened fire just as Juan spun the first guard around, the bullets thudding into the man’s back, causing his body to twitch and dance. Juan pushed the man toward the middle of the room and fired at a man running straight at him, hitting him in the stomach and in the face. The man fell forward onto his hands and knees, and then collapsed onto his belly.
“Matar a ese hijo de puta!” somebody shouted. Juan didn’t see who, though it sounded like the young guy in charge.
Just the man Juan wanted to get his hands on.
To his left was a metal staircase leading to a catwalk that went the length of the room. There was a narrow gap between the catwalk and the wall and he ran for it, rounding the far side of the stairs just as more shoots zinged off the pipes that ran beneath the catwalk.
“Se fue de esa manera,” the young guy yelled again. “Cómo él, lo consigue!”
About twenty feet down there was a gap in the pipes. Juan reached that just as two men came around the stairs. Had Juan been in their shoes he would have hung back, where he could use the stairs for cover. But these two were stupid. Not seeing him right away they rushed forward, and when Juan pied around the edge of the stack of pipes he was using for concealment the two men found themselves framed in the narrow funnel between the catwalk and the wall. They were set up like ducks in a county fair’s shooting arcade. One man stopped and tried to back peddle out of the funnel. The other brought his gun up to fire. Juan shot him four times in the chest, then put his sights on the second man at the foot of the stairs and dropped him with three shots.
The slide of Juan’s pistol locked back in the empty position. He brought it up to his chest, ejected the spent magazine, and retrieved another from his back pocket, all while walking back toward the main floor. He was in operator mode now, every action deliberate, smooth, and executed with practiced precision. Juan had only taken the briefest of glances at the main floor but it had been enough to lock it into his mind. There’d been the two guards at the door, and the three men he’d killed by the stairs. That left a man in a blue T-shirt and jeans that had been standing far off to his right by a long metal table and the young guy in the black blazer. The guy in the blue T-shirt had pulled a pistol, Juan had seen that, so when he came around the backside of the stairs, he was ready.
The young guy in the blazer was running toward the back of the main floor, toward some offices along the far wall. Juan scanned the rest of the floor and saw the man in the blue T-shirt ducking behind the table. There was some kind of pulley attachment just above the table and he was using that as concealment. There wasn’t enough of him showing for a clean shot, not at thirty yards with a pistol.
There was a six-inch gap between the table and the bottom of the pulley. Raising his pistol and fixing his sights on the surface of the table, Juan slowly squeezed the trigger. Bullets hitting hard surfaces such as concrete and metal at an obtuse angle tended to hug that hard surface. It was a trick he’d learned while street fighting in Ciudad Juarez years earlier, where shooting at targets hiding under cars was a necessary survival skill, and when the gun jumped in his hand he wasn’t surprised to hear the shot zing off the table and then the man let out a startled cough. He stumbled away from the table, coming out from behind the pulley, and when he did Juan saw the man’s blue T-shirt had become a bloody bib from the wound in his neck. He collapsed to the ground without Juan having to fire a second shot.
Juan broke into a sprint and went after the young guy in the blazer. He’d already made it across the main floor and was disappearing into an office, but Juan was closing fast. He hit the door with his good shoulder and caved it inwards. The young guy was standing in a doorway on the far side of the office with a gun in his hand. He fired five wild shots at Juan’s direction, but Juan was already diving toward a heavy oaken desk in the middle of the room. He hit the ground and rolled left, firing as he did so and driving the guy through the door and out into the hall.
Juan could hear the man’s footfalls disappearing down the hallway. He climbed to his feet, hustled to the door and pied around the corner. The man had stopped at the end of the hall, his gun up and ready. But Juan had the jump on him and fired twice, both shots hitting the man in his right shoulder. He wanted this man talking, not dead.
The man screamed and fell back against the wall, leaving a long smear of blood there. His pistol fell to the carpet, and before he could reach down with his good hand to get it, Juan let out a yell and charged him.
The man turned tail and ran into the darkened recesses of the building. It wasn’t hard to follow him, though. He was shot and panicking. Juan could hear him panting, whimpering really, and when he caught up to him he pushed him headlong into a wall. The man screamed from the pain and then screamed again when Juan grabbed the wounded shoulder and used it as leverage to pull him to the ground. Working quickly he pushed the man onto his stomach and wrenched the wounded arm behind his back, slapping a handcuff on the man’s wrist a moment later.
He tried to pull the other arm back, but the man was laying on it, squirming around like he was trying to reach something in his opposite side front pocket.
“Dame tus manos!” Juan yelled. “Hacerlo ahora!”
Still the man wouldn’t release his arm. He kicked and bucked, tried to roll over and throw Juan to the side. Juan clamped his fingers down on the man’s wounded shoulder and squeezed, causing the man to howl in pain, and still he wouldn’t give up his free arm.
Then Juan felt him grab something and he thought: Crap, a gun!
“Soltarlo! Soltarlo!” Juan yelled. “Drop it!”
He clamped down again on the wound, digging his fingers into the bullet hole, tearing it. The man’s screams echoed off the walls, and after nearly ten seconds of that he’d had enough and rolled over, freeing up his right arm, all his resistance gone.
Juan pulled the arm back, expecting to see a gun, and instead saw what looked like a garage door opener in the man’s hands. The man’s thumb was mashing down on the button so hard it had turned white.
“What the hell is this?” Juan asked.
The man laughed. There were tears running down his blood-spattered face, but he was laughing.
The crazy bastard, Juan thought.
“What have you done?” Juan asked him.
The man’s laughter turned to a cruel sneer. “No entiendo Ingles,” he said.
Juan grabbed the wound again, this time sinking his thumb down to the knuckle in the wound.
Between the man’s screams Juan said, “Bullshit, asshole. You speak English just fine. Now what the hell did you do? Why were you sending that bacteria down to Nuevo Laredo? Where’s the truck?”
The man couldn’t laugh anymore. He tried, but he couldn’t. He was panting now, his skin an ashen white.
“You want to know?” the man said.
“Yeah, I want to know.”
This time the man did manage a laugh. A laugh that made him sound like one of the damned. “You want to know. I’ll show you.”
His head fell back on the carpet. He had all but passed out. Juan was about to go for the wound again when a door burst open not ten feet down the hall. A man fell out and collided with the opposite wall.
Instantly Juan was on his feet, his weapon in his hand.
The man’s head lolled on his shoulders. His arms hung limply at his side. Even in the low light of the hallway the man’s face looked diseased, blistered and cracked. There were oozing wounds on his cheeks and his forehead. And when he stood up, pushing away from the wall, Juan could see he was missing an ear, his clothes bloody and shredded rags.
“What the hell?” Juan said.
From below him, the handcuffed man let out a sound that was supposed to be another brave laugh, but instead came out like a groan.
The diseased man staggered forward.
Two more men, both as diseased-looking as the first, stepped out of the doorway.
“Stop right there,” Juan said, surprised to hear the hitch in his voice. “I said stop. Alto Ahi!”
The man lurched forward. His whole body trembled when he walked. He wasn’t drunk. Juan could see that at a glance. But something was wrong with him. Seriously wrong.
“Acuéstese en el suelo con las manos detrás de la cabeza,” Juan said.
The handcuffed man started to laugh. “You’re fucked, pendajo! You wanted to know what we did, this is it. You hear me, man, you’re f – ”
The rest was cut off sharply.
As Juan watched, both horrified and captivated, unable to look away, one of the three diseased men fell on the handcuffed man and tore at his face with his hands and his teeth. It was savage to watch, an awful act full of blind fury and inexplicable rage. A cold chill moved over his spine. Juan backed away, shaking his head, not at all sure what he was looking at, but scared nonetheless.
A hand fell on his shoulder.
He spun around.
And found himself nose to nose with another of the diseased men. This one didn’t have any lips. His eyes were leaking puss and his skin was peeling from his face. He opened his mouth and leaned forward to take a bite out of Juan’s face, and when he did Juan got a whiff of something
The odor of a body left out in the sun to rot.
He gagged and fell backwards. The man reached for him and Juan reacted instantly by grabbing the man’s wrist and pulling him.
The man went flying, and Juan was shocked by how little resistance he gave. He tumbled headlong into the path of the diseased men behind Juan and they all went over.
Like bowling pins.
There was a woman standing in front of him when he turned around. This one had gray, matted hair halfway down her back, the remnants of some kind of white smock hanging from her shoulders. Behind her were half a dozen more just like her, diseased and lurching forward, unsteady on their feet, the odor of dead things moving with them.
“Oh shit,” Juan said.
He turned around and saw the bowling pins rising to their feet. When the first man turned to face him Juan raised his gun and centered the front sight on his chest. “Un paso más y voy a poner una bala a través de su corazón,” he said. “I mean it. Not another step.”
The man stumbled forward, his hands reaching for Juan’s face.
Juan braced himself.
The first shot knocked the man back on his heels.
But didn’t stop him.
His head tilted forward, his hands came up again, grabbing at air, and he took another step. Juan fired twice into the man’s chest, both shots hitting almost directly on top of the first. Little bits of flesh and burned bits of fabric flew from the entry wound.
The man staggered forward.
Seemingly oblivious to his pain.
Juan leveled his sights on the man’s nose and fired.
Half his head exploded away, big clumps of scalp and hair smacking against the wall like a thrown wet towel.
And still the man staggered forward.
Juan lowered his weapon, stunned, and for the first time since his father’s funeral all those years ago, a prayer rose to his lips: “Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, santificado sea tu nombre, venga tu reino…”
But the man didn’t stop.
Slowly, Juan raised his pistol, and this time his aim was true. The man’s head snapped back, and he sank to the floor a motionless heap.
Juan glanced over his shoulder at the advancing horde and knew he couldn’t go that way.
He didn’t have much time either.
Forward and out, he told himself.
He aimed for what his sniper friends called the kill spot, that little indentation between the bottom of the nose and the center of the upper lip. Put a bullet there and the medulla oblongata vaporized in a pink spray that went out the back of the head and ended the victim’s life before they could even blink an eye.
Both of the men in front of him went down with a single shot and a badly shaken Juan Juan staggered down the hallway until he found an exit.
He pushed the door open and blinding white lights hit him in the face.
Men were yelling.
He put up a hand to shield his eyes, his other hand holding his weapon down by his thigh.
A familiar voice yelled, “Hold your fire!”
The next instant, Detective Jason Rowe was at his side, saying something Juan didn’t quite catch.
It felt like the world was swirling all around him.
“Hey,” Rowe shouted into his ear, “you okay?”
Juan slowly shook his head.
He hooked a thumb back toward the building. “Nobody goes in there,” he said, surprised at how smooth, how calm he sounded. “Not yet.”
What a great story, my friends! Be on the lookout for it!